The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is a strategic unit located within The Presidency in South Africa. Established in 1998, GCIS plays a vital role in coordinating, guiding, and advising on government communication to ensure integrated, coordinated, and clear messaging to South African citizens. GCIS aims to facilitate effective government communication, drive coherent messaging, and proactively inform the public about government policies, plans, programs, and achievements.
GCIS was officially launched on 18 May 1998, following an investigation into government communications by a communications task group (Comtask). Its establishment was mandated by Section 7 of the Public Service Act, 1994. With a vision of achieving transparent and inclusive communication between the government and citizens, GCIS was entrusted with responsibilities related to media liaison, development communication, and marketing.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the South African government faced the challenge of operating in a context of radical uncertainty. The pandemic’s regional and local impact necessitated effective crisis management and policy responses. Moreover, the proliferation of disinformation and fake news posed a significant threat to public health and safety. GCIS recognized the urgent need to keep the South African population informed with accurate information and daily statistics. To address this challenge, GCIS partnered with NP Digital to manage and disseminate critical information as it was released.
NP Digital implemented a comprehensive paid media strategy for GCIS, leveraging various digital channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Programmatic Display, and Native Ads. Given the constantly evolving landscape, communication had to be sent out and amplified daily. The communication efforts focused on sharing daily COVID-19 infection, death, and recovery statistics, as well as updates on the different stages of lockdown implemented during the peak of the pandemic.
To reach a wide audience, NP Digital executed performance media campaigns on Google, Facebook, and Twitter, with a substantial budget of over ZAR 140 million. These campaigns delivered remarkable results, exceeding expectations in terms of cost efficiency and performance. By May 2020, the Facebook campaign achieved an audience saturation of 51% among South African users. Although the precise impact of the strategic communications on lives saved or affected is difficult to quantify, it is undeniable that the agile and always-on campaign played a crucial role in keeping South Africans informed, contributing to mitigating the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.